Joining Hands in Celebrating International Mother Language Day
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport values the importance of linguistic diversity and human right to use one’s mother language. To raise further awareness, the Department joined hands with the XhosAfrika Network, the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA) and others to celebrate International Mother Language Day at the University of the Cape Town on Saturday, 23 February 2013.
The event’s programme, structured around the theme ‘exploring the links between languages and books’ focused on the advantages of mother tongue language, multilingualism and reading for enjoyment, as advocated through PRAESA’s Nal’bali campaign. The campaign promotes the importance of reading through its book clubs.
Learners from the Noluthando School for the Deaf, Harry Gwala Secondary School (Khayelitsha), Rosendal and Vergenoegd Primary Schools (Delft) and PRAESA’s books clubs were involved in the programme. Students from the University and members of organisations also attended. Artist and storyteller, Ms Bongi Mbongwe encouraged the learners to always value their mother language and promote sign language.
The Department believes in the importance of protecting, preserving and promoting the cultural rights for citizens in the Western Cape. Speaking at the event, Director of Arts, Language and Culture, Ms Jane Moleleki said language serves as an expression of culture without being entirely synonymous with it. “The concept of nationhood finds resonance in the adoption of a national language around which the diverse ethnic communities can rally. Language encodes the values and norms in a given society. As a culture changes, so does the language,” said Moleleki.
In a statement, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Dr Ivan Meyer said there is more than enough research based evidence to support the importance of promoting mother tongue language. “Awareness must therefore highlight the pedagogical value as well as the cultural value of mother tongue language, as it is a carrier of culture,” said Dr Meyer.
The life and work of Dr Neville Alexander was also commemorated at the event. The celebration is set to become an annual event on the calendar of the XhosaAfrika Network and PRAESA. It certainly developed awareness around linguistic and cultural traditions to inspired solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.